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EL 9405 - New Venture Creation Prof. Simon Parker
Arun Shiam Kumar Rajamohan ID: 250499035
There is no doubt that the innovation challenge has been one of my best experiences at Ivey. The project helped me realize a wide variety of problems around business creation. The experience not only did help me understand several important issues that entrepreneurs need to be aware of, but also did open doors to numerous quite a few potential business ideas. The following paper is a compilation of my learning over the course of this exercise. Gold Mine: I have realized that entrepreneurship is the way of life. If a learning team of 6
members can come up with one hundred business ideas in less than a couple of hours, I don’t find any reason not to capitalize on the golden opportunities around us. The innovation challenge unearthed several potential areas where one could easily make some serious money even within a short span of 2 weeks. I am more than certain that at some point of my life, I would venture a business on my own. Contributing to the Society: Our team contributed 10% of the profits to Ivey-MOVember
prostate cancer fund, despite being a for-profit venture. In my opinion, this represents the way entrepreneurs should operate. The social responsibility of business is not just to generate profits, but also to add value to the societies in which they operate. There is a big need in the social sector, especially in the developing countries and 3
world countries. Entrepreneurs have the
right skill sets and best potential to alleviate the problems from the society and make world a Heaven to live in. Need: The basis for any business venture is identifying a problem or need in the society and
attempting to solve them. Wright brothers originally realized the need for flying machines and eventually ended up inventing air-planes. Our learning team for the innovation challenge identified the opportunity in the gambling segment and ended up creating the Ivey 50-50 draw.
In my opinion, this is the single most important step of any business creation. Identifying a business need and a social need should be the first step of identifying any business and the entrepreneur must innovate his business in such a way that both the ends meet. Idea: One of the most important learning to me is that there is never a shortage of ideas. It is all
about executing them. The idea must not only attempt at solving the identified problem, but also try and enforce innovation to achieve the best possible solution to address the issue. Apple’s iith
Mistry’s 6 generation technology ideas phone is the best example that I could think off. Pranav Mistry’s is another thing, in my opinion, that has utilized in innovation at its best. Creating and Capturing Value: Entrepreneurs must not aim at making money, but they must
focus on making a meaning. They should aspire to not only creating a value but also to capture the best of it. Several cases that we discussed in the course explicated the importance of capturing value. The biggest challenge, with respect to our team’s innovation challenge concept was to capture the value at its initial stages. People hesitated to buy 50-50 until they were confident that there was a possibility for them to win a fair prize. We, as a team decided to use the MOvember prostate cancer fund contribution as a selling element to attract people owing to the fact that part of their contribution goes to a social cause. This helped us capture the value. In the real world, I would expect entrepreneurs, at least at the initial stages, to suffer to capturing the values. In my opinion, they must focus on selling to the consumers, how their product will create value to them. The entrepreneurs might even end up not capturing value for a fair bit of time, but on the long run, they will be successful.
Business Model, Assumptions and risks: A well written business model is business venture
half done. While it is extremely difficult to exactly define how the business should work, entrepreneurs need to focus on at least brainstorming, analyzing and strategizing as many aspects as possible. In our innovation challenge project, we failed to address the market segmentation. We originally believed that all the MBA students would buy our product (an opportunity to win the 50-50 draw); however, we ended up finding that relationships were extremely important for selling. While we could easily sell tickets to our class mates whom we know, we struggled to keep up with the other cohorts. Ideally, we must have brainstormed our sales strategy while defining our business model. This also leads to the learning that entrepreneurs must clearly state their assumptions while creating the business model, and address the risks of failing assumptions. Do the numbers: Entrepreneurs need to know how much value their business would create.
While our team could not do a market research in the limited time available, we realized the importance of entrepreneurs to conduct a thorough market research before they begin executing the business plan. Essentially, this is a sort of disaster check before entrepreneurs actually get the business going. In the event of numbers not being favorable, the entrepreneur must be flexible to go back to his business plan and try to modify his strategy, may be even as complex as thrashing his original idea and coming up with a new one. Planning, Execution and Recycling: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail ”. While the
entrepreneur is supposed to plan as comprehensively as possible, he is also expected to have sufficient flexibility in his long-term and short-term action plan. Entrepreneurs need to be passionate about his/her ideas. Having said that, it is also important for entrepreneurs to be flexible; may be even as worse as shutting down the business. Execution is tough and it’s likely
that the entrepreneur hits multiple road blocks. The plan must be flexible enough to accommodate such challenges or at least the entrepreneur must be aware of such challenges. Entrepreneurs must have the ability to learn as they go forward and recycle their strategies. Team work: Team work is an integral part of any activity that an entrepreneur engages in. An
ideal team will have diversity, embrace openness and honest discussions, empower its members to participate in an unbiased fashion. The entrepreneur must create an environment where individuals do not hesitate to voice their opinions. Leadership: Entrepreneurs should not just be leaders, but also be cultivators of leaders. I believe
that leadership is the ability to break down complex problems into actionable fragments, accurately defining and entrusting responsibilities to subordinates. Delegating responsibilities is important because it not only instigates involvement amongst the players, but also encourages individual leadership capabilities. I view this as the success of the group in the long run. Business Expansion: Entrepreneurs face tough challenges when their business grows. They
must be aware of the variety of the expansion options available and understand the fact that investors are looking for serious returns from the business. While not giving up too much equity, entrepreneurs need to be open enough to find the best possible investment strategy for the business. In order to best sell the company to investors, entrepreneurs need to look from the investor’s perspective, particular ly ly with respect to return (sustainability, risk, control, sales, flexibility, and timing). Entrepreneurs must also to know their unique selling propositions and their exit strategy, in order to best maximize on the expansion situation. Strengths and Weaknesses: A successful entrepreneur’s strength is that he will know all his
weaknesses. However, his weakness could be that he does not know all his strengths. We know
that entrepreneurs cannot afford to just focus on a particular discipline and that they need to be jack of all trades. In addition to building on the strengths, entrepreneurs need to aim to improving their weak areas. In my case, I have personally discovered that I have to improve my sales abilities. Having come from a non-North American background, I struggled to make my sales pitch to my Canadian counterparts. But I improved thereafter, watching and understanding how my team mates performed their sales. This shows the importance of entrepreneurs to understand the cultural aspects of his team mates and customers, as well. I personally plan to spend considerable time improving my sales abilities and my acquaintance with the North American culture. Relationships and Networking: Having completed the innovation challenge, I have come to
realize the importance of relationships and networking more strongly than ever. Even to make a simple sales pitch, we realized that relationships do matter. Entrepreneurs need to know where best they have to invest their valuable time and effective relationships start with selective networking. They must try and cultivate long-term relationships, particularly in businesses where repeat customers are common. In a nutshell, the innovation challenge in addition to strengthening certain principles that I have had about running businesses, also explicated several important issues and challenges which I would never have thought of. I hope to run social enterprises as business ventures in future and I understand that this exercise had its significant contribution.